When Sanjana Madappa fell pregnant with her first child, she was open to guidance from other mothers. However, when some friends and family members advised her to give up her five rescue dogs, she flat out refused. Instead, she decided to show everyone how important her pets were to her growing family.
Sanjana Madappa and her husband Aditya Raheja lived in Bangalore, India. Here, Raheja worked in real estate while Madappa worked at the Compassion Unlimited Plus Action animal shelter. Needless to say, she was a big animal lover. And she and her husband had five rescue dogs of their own at home.
Working at the organization, Madappa came across many reasons why people gave up their pets. However, she was surprised to find that their owner becoming pregnant was among the most popular explanations. The welfare officer would sometimes try to persuade these families to keep their pets. However, people often dismissed her advice because she wasn’t a mother herself.
But, that all looked set to change in April 2016. Two years after their wedding, the couple discovered that Madappa was expecting a baby. “We were ecstatic about our pregnancy but little did we know how difficult the next few months would be,” Madappa told The News Minute in January 2017.
Madappa had a tough pregnancy. The mom-to-be suffered severe morning sickness for months on end. “I was glued to my toilet. I was puking everything I consumed, even water,” she later revealed. “At one point, I was hospitalized because I was throwing up blood.”
And although doctors did eventually manage to get her nausea under control, her ordeal didn’t end there. Experts informed her that the pregnancy would be high risk if the baby came early. Furthermore, there was a possibility her child could be stillborn.
“For the last two months of my pregnancy, I was practically on house arrest,” she subsequently told The News Minute. “I cannot even begin to describe all the thoughts which raced through my head in during those days. I was angry, resentful and close to sinking into depression.”
Madappa’s friends and family naturally became worried about her. As a result, many of them told her to give up her beloved dogs and focus on her unborn child. However, she felt that her five pooches were her babies as well.
According to the ASPCA, bringing a child into a family can greatly disrupt a dog’s routine. Often, canines can find it difficult to adjust to the new sights, sounds and smells that accompany a newborn. They may also feel left out as their owner spends more time attending to their baby than them.
However, with the right preparation before the birth, dogs should be able to adjust. Parents are advised to make clear boundaries between their pets and their children and always put safety first. If they’re still concerned about the welfare of their child after the animals have been trained, it is then that they should consider giving up their pets.
However, Madappa and Raheja refused to give up their four-legged friends. In fact, they were adamant that the animals were as much part of their family as anyone. Therefore, the couple decided to show the world just how much their pets meant to them.
“I was told by family, friends and even my doctor to get rid of my dogs and that my baby came first,” Mandappa subsequently revealed. She added, “I couldn’t abandon a family member to bring in another. I will not betray a life that depends on me as much as my son.”
The couple enlisted photographer Bhargavi Naveen to conduct a maternity shoot ahead of their big arrival. However, rather than keep the special moment between themselves, they decided to include their dogs Credit, Diego, Munni, Leo and Cujo.
And the results were stunning. Yes, the images showed off the animals’ softer sides as they snuggled up to Madappa and Raheja. It was clear to see that the couple’s loving furry family would indeed welcome their unborn son.
News outlets across the globe have since featured the stunning set of images. And the reaction to them has been largely positive. “Dogs are a part of your family and abandoning them is a disgrace to mankind,” one well-wisher wrote on Facebook. “I’m sure [your son will] grow up to be a healthy and a compassionate human being.”
Explaining her motives for setting up the shoot, Madappa subsequently told The Dodo, “I didn’t say much to people who told me to give them away. I just nodded and smiled because sometimes you just can’t change opinions. This photo shoot was my answer.”
And just one week after appearing in the photos, Madappa gave birth to a boy. The couple named their son Ayan. And it didn’t take long for the family to realize they’d done the right thing by keeping their pets. The dogs were quick to welcome their new sibling into their pack.
“My youngest pup sleeps next to his cradle while another always comes running to check in on him if he starts crying,” Madappa told The Dodo. “They are so gentle with him. They never jump on me if I’m carrying him or up on the bed if he is on it. I didn’t have to teach them this, they just knew.”
In turn, Madappa has credited her fur babies with helping her through her difficult pregnancy. “The dogs were always there for me, especially when things got tough during the pregnancy,” she revealed to The Dodo. “From sitting in the bathroom with me while I was sick to staying awake with me at night when I couldn’t sleep, they were a constant source of comfort to me.”
Now it’s the dogs’ turn to be there for little Ayan as he grows up. Seeing her pets’ instant bond with her son confirmed to Madappa that she’d made the right decision. Now, no matter where he goes, he’ll have five older siblings to pave the way for him.